This was originally posted on September 9, 2012, after returning from a two-week trip to Burning Man
After my return from my longest trip ever in the history of EVER, our family had to do some tweaking with a few things. One of our kids continues to struggle with some very specific issues. As many of you have done, we turned over every stone, we addressed things piece by piece and we have been seeking therapy for a significant amount of time. Along with the therapist, we all agree we are dealing with something else and our approach to this child needs to change.
That can be somewhat of a relief and it can also be a little depressing. When your family and your resources have been working their tail off and you look up a LONG time later to realize you’re just spinning through the same cycle … you feel like you’re starting over. You’re not, but it sure feels like it. It’s also a good feeling for everyone to land on the same page and feel like you’re getting closer to an answer. More than anything, you all hope you are finding a way for your child to catch a break from their turmoil.
In our tweaking and revamping and what-not, I have been absorbing some new resources. I’m reading a lot from Dr. Russell Barkley. You will both love and loathe this man.
As do I.
He has reminded me of what motivates me. In one of his books, he asks parents to make a chart. On one side you write all of the attributes of the best supervisor/boss you’ve ever had, and how they motivated you. On the other side, of course, you write the attributes of the worst supervisor/boss in your history.
You all see where this is going, and in the words of one of my dearest friends, “Ohhh geeeez.”
Some of our kids, indeed, cycle through behavioral patterns. In the same way, we as parents begin our own patterns of reactive behavior. Before we even realize it, we are stuck. We have lost love and connection and patience. We can’t remember the last time we have had soft eyes or a kind voice.
When we are having a crappy time at home, in our sleep or in our hearts and minds, it comes out in our work. That is precisely when we need a boss who understands that we can’t always be “on.” We will work through it and push forward much faster if we feel heard and understood, even if we don’t have the words to talk about it. This is when we need a motivator – an encourager. The supervisors we have had in our lives who respond this way are the bosses we still talk about. They are the people who received our very best. They are the people who accepted all of us and we knew it, and we were motivated to work harder for them.
Ay, ay, ay. Is this the space we provide for our kids?
I coach parents, not because I have this stuff down and I’m amazing and it’s like blinking for me. I coach parents because I can truly connect with them. I know what it’s like to read stuff like this after years and think, “CRAP! How can I be doing so well with one child and yet be stuck in such a negative cycle with another? I DON’T WANT TO GET UNSTUCK! I’M STUCK!”
Just like a really amazing supervisor at work, I have to receive and absorb training and look for those opportunities. I need to surround myself with others who are doing well at what I want to do, even in their humanity. I have to learn new things and remind myself of the old things that are effective. I have to practice those things, even with the people at work who make it more of a struggle (because they need it the most). I have to keep my eyes on the big picture. I have to choose, most days, to be the kind of person who will create a space of growth and forward movement. I have to be willing to admit when I screw up and show those around me how to fix it when you blow it.
I have to be the person I need and desire most, when I’m struggling.